When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.
Luke 11:37-41 (MSG)
The Pharisee, as soon as Jesus is at his house, begins a malicious inspection, trying to find something that can justify killing Jesus, and the Pharisee found his opportunity when Jesus did not ceremonially wash his hands before the meal.
This hand washing, a man-made rule by the Pharisees, served to help the Pharisees separate themselves from the common person. The Pharisees had developed detailed rules and regulations, concerning everything from the exact amount of water to be used, what vessels the water would be poured from, how they were to pour the water from the vessels, and more. However, they were not commanded by Levitical law to follow such practices.
The Pharisee noticed that Jesus did not wash His hands, and while the Pharisee did not express anything verbally, Jesus sees his heart. This explains why Jesus accepted the invitation in the first place. It was not because He thought that the Pharisee wanted to make a conversion. Jesus knew that it was an invitation to be on display. Jesus wanted to be there to say more about how twisted the Pharisees were.
In a moment of spiritual clairvoyance, Jesus speaks to the heart of the Pharisee. Here, Jesus puts emphasis on the inside of our spiritual lives. Following Jesus is not for the shaping of our outside devotion to God. Following Jesus is for washing and cleansing the inside of our hearts.
Spirituality is not about having a sparkling and perfect outside. Spirituality is about making sure that the inner content of our lives is clean and purified by a devoted engagement with the one who can transform our minds. Just as Jesus later taught, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man. Matthew 15:11 (NASB).” Jesus is clearly focusing on the value of inside, spiritual transformation.
We see this because everyone around us is forced to live an exterior-focused life; meanwhile, they are being eaten by the maggots in their hearts. We all know the temptation of focusing on the external, while we neglect what is important on the inside. However, Jesus teaches us that power doesn’t come from the outside.
We can’t find meaning, happiness, or fulfillment from the outside. They are the result of a heart and will that has been conditioned by a relationship with Jesus Christ. We can have a strong soul when we have strong devotion to the God of our salvation.
Whatever you want to do, whatever you want to be, whatever you want to experience, you will only find true meaning if you are cleaned inside by the life-changing work of Jesus Christ, which means we have to make our spiritual life an inside project.